The Star Tribune's J. Patrick Coolican reported this weekend that House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, believes Gov. Mark Dayton will not finish his current term as governor and will resign before the start of the 2017 legislative session.
After hanging up the phone, Daudt called back and offered up another potential surprise, a prediction that was itself surprising: "I don’t think the governor is going to finish his term," he said, predicting Gov. Mark Dayton will serve until after the election and then step down before the 2017 legislative session.
Speculation that Dayton, 68, would not finish his current term as governor began before Dayton was even re-elected to a second four-year term in 2014.
Supporters of Dayton's opponent in 2014, Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, continually pushed the rumor that if Dayton won re-election, he would resign before his term ended in January 2019.
Democrats have also discussed the rumors about Dayton resigning as governor.
In an email from December, Rep. Joe Atkins, DFL-Inver Grove Heights, highlighted the possibility of Dayton resigning, noting that "a growing number believe the 68-year-old Dayton will hang it up early, turning the reins over to Lt. Gov. Tina Smith in 2017 or sooner..." Atkins added that he did not believe Dayton would resign before his term ended.
While some of the Republicans who promoted the idea that Dayton would resign are working for Daudt at the Minnesota House of Representatives, Daudt discussing it with the press elevates the rumor.
In response to a request about why Daudt believes Dayton will resign before he finishes his term as governor, Daudt's spokeswoman, Susan Closmore clarified his previous statements.
Closmore wrote in an email that Daudt "doesn't know if he believes rumors" that Dayton may resign. Closmore added, "but in reference to those rumors, Speaker Daudt predicted that IF the governor resigns it will happen after the 2016 election and before the 2017 session."
As noted at the end of Coolican's story, Dayton extinguished Daudt's speculation that he would resign before his term ended.
Picture source: Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune